Politics

Bernie Sanders has requested a recanvass of votes cast in Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary last week, which he lost to Hillary Clinton by 1,924 votes.

The recanvass is essentially a re-tabulation of results from each precinct and will be conducted on Thursday, May 26, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.

“The purpose of a recanvass is to verify the accuracy of the vote totals reported from the voting machines,” Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes tweeted after receiving Sanders’ request.

Sanders sent the request to Grimes’ office on Tuesday morning; the deadline to ask for a recanvass is 4:00 Tuesday afternoon.

According the Kentucky Democratic Party, Clinton won 28 delegates and Sanders won 27 from last week’s primary election.

The Associated Press reports that one of Clinton’s delegates could swing in Sanders’ favor, if the recanvass finds additional votes for him in the sixth congressional district — around Lexington — which Clinton won by about 500 votes.

Historically, recanvasses haven’t yielded wildly different tallies from the original results.

The last recanvass conducted in Kentucky was of the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary. It was requested by James Comer after he lost to then-candidate Matt Bevin by 83 votes. The recanvass did not change the outcome of the primary election.

Joshua Douglas, an election law profess at the University of Kentucky, says recanvasses are a vestige of the time before electronic voting machines.

“When you have humans counting the votes, then certainly there’s a chance for greater changes in the vote-counting process,” Douglas said. “With electronic voting machines, a recanvass is really just press the button and it’ll spit out the vote totals again. The likelihood of change, at least in those counties, is pretty small.”

Some counties in rural parts of the state still use paper ballots.

In the primary election, Sanders did especially well in rural parts of the state in Eastern and Western Kentucky. Clinton did well in the urban centers of Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky.

Sanders has a narrow path to victory dependent on picking up super delegates who have already committed to the Clinton campaign. Sanders has vowed to stay in the race until the end of the primary season.

Douglas says even if the recanvass doesn’t yield different results, Sanders’ request could play well politically.

“It helps their storyline to say ‘look, Kentucky’s really a tie and it’s so close that we even fall within the boundary of requesting a recanvass,’” Douglas said.

Sanders could also request a formal recount of the votes, which his campaign would have to pay for, or challenge the election results in court.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.